The 2011 National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Summit, which was held in Cincinnati in October, held sessions on a variety of important and interesting topics, ranging from bullying to alternative fuels. Presenters gave attendees tips and information that they could bring back to their staff and apply at their operations.
Also noteworthy was a special event to debut a new all-electric Type A school bus on the market. The trade show showcased other new school buses.
Speakers discuss bullying prevention
Bullying among kids, and ways to intervene and prevent it, were the subjects of two passionate presentations. Author Jodee Blanco has created a bullying prevention program called “It’s NOT Just Joking Around!” and she drew from her own experiences being bullied as a child and teen in developing it.
Because many bullied students often confide in their school bus drivers, Blanco emphasized that transportation managers should make sure to tell their bus drivers how important they are.
She suggested that if school bus drivers see an incident taking place, they pull over, stop the bus and deal with it immediately. However, Blanco cautioned against chastising the bully in front of his or her peers. Instead, she suggested using a diversion to “extricate the victim out of that limelight.”
“It could be something as simple as asking the student who’s being bullied to come to the front of the bus and make a list for you — anything to get them out of that environment,” she said.
Following Blanco, Jessica Brookshire discussed K.A.R.M.A., a nonprofit organization that she founded. (K.A.R.M.A. stands for Kids Against Ridicule, Meanness and Aggression.)
Brookshire believes that empathy is a key component to reducing and preventing incidents of bullying, and she is also an advocate of positive energy.
“I started K.A.R.M.A. because there was no national organization to help support bullying prevention,” Brookshire said. “Kids need to have positive energy to push them toward positive behavior, and that’s what K.A.R.M.A. is based on — the goal is to rekindle kindness in our youth.”
She believes that communication is another integral component to bullying prevention, so when speaking to students at schools, she recommends that they tell at least five adults if they witness a bullying incident or are a victim of bullying.
Adults, in turn, should listen to the students and focus on the victim and how he or she is feeling.